When wearing a hat, use your head
March 8, 2001 10:55 AM   Subscribe

When wearing a hat, use your head And you thought it was only Harry S Truman who was in the hat business! Now the current resident in the White House is too.
posted by Postroad (32 comments total)
ha! "uniqueness of being a beret-designated elite unit"
Man, nothing says you're |33+ like a beret.
posted by tiaka at 10:59 AM on March 8, 2001

I think Berets say a lot of things. Elite fighting force, to me, is not one of them.
posted by Doug at 11:02 AM on March 8, 2001

Truman was a haberdasher, not a milliner.
posted by Mo Nickels at 11:07 AM on March 8, 2001

At the risk of making myself sound like dreama, aaron, and company (the gods know I don't want to do that :) ), I really found much more interest in this story with the beret content than the mention of Bush. The lead-in to the story made it sound like he was doing something stupid again. Aren't we trying just a little too hard? He's good enough at doing dumb things himself, we don't need to manufacture dumb things for him to do.
posted by jammer at 11:09 AM on March 8, 2001

Jammer: sorry if you misread my posting. I brought the pres in merely because this hat issue reached right up to the top, commander in chief. Now that I think about it, who is in charge of deciding on clothing changes? Joint Chiefs? Top general? Or president. Anyone know?
posted by Postroad at 11:14 AM on March 8, 2001

Anyone else chuckle at the phrase "elite unit headgear?"
posted by Chairman_MaoXian at 11:16 AM on March 8, 2001

The big mistake was not the berets, but that they picked black berets, which the Rangers were already using. I suppose they really had no better color to choose, since the Special Forces use green. Perhaps a different shade of green would work? You can't really get a different black.
posted by girlhacker at 11:17 AM on March 8, 2001

posted by frykitty at 11:19 AM on March 8, 2001

8 Comments and no mention of "Raspberry".

Oh wait..... Doh!
posted by fuzzynavel at 11:21 AM on March 8, 2001

Chairman, you're naughty. That's funny. So does anyone know who designs the unforms? What kind of process is involved? Must be kind of fascinating. Where is Elsa Klensch when you need her?Does the band/entertainment corps get raspberry? Glitter!!
posted by mimi at 11:22 AM on March 8, 2001

awwww missed it by 'that' much.
posted by mimi at 11:22 AM on March 8, 2001

I was going to say something, but didn't want to insult whoever might be in the military around these parts. Brown? I mean, that's like red, but darker... are there brown berets? There could be the confusion between the linking (brown=shit). Hmm.. so? Blue? Dark Blue? Navy? Navy doesn't sound too bad. White? Might get dirty and then you'd have to wash them, and that's a mess, a lot of them are not washer safe and are dry-cleaners only.
posted by tiaka at 11:26 AM on March 8, 2001

Tiaka, you ain't the only one advocating Brown berets for all. Although Brown berets have been a symbol of more militant La Raza activists for decades. Every color has its flaws. Why people would think that a hat would solve a morale problem is beyond me.
posted by norm at 11:34 AM on March 8, 2001

The Rangers should just switch to the regular old army hat and make that the 1337 headgear until the rest of the army switches back... and so on ad infinitum.

As for the beret's appeal to potential recruits, I'm sure the Army has done focus groups and all that, but as for me, the prospect of wearing a beret only further diminishes any urge I might have to join up. Not that I have any such urge.
posted by daveadams at 11:50 AM on March 8, 2001

Why not just order up a batch from the French? (Yeah, I know, the beret probably originated with the Basques) They've got 25 colors to choose fom, 24 of which aren't black.
Why people would think that a hat would solve a morale problem is beyond me.
Historical precedent: the Ranger's black beret came into being during the morale boosting of the mid-1970s.
posted by iceberg273 at 11:54 AM on March 8, 2001

Do you think the Army would really wear Navy berets? I think not!

This beret thing is like the new "Army of One" ad campaign, just designed to market toward the disaffected youth who wants to be unique just like everybody else.

Heaven forbid you might join the Army to serve your country, learn some skills (not the 1337 hax0r type), or any other worthwhile motive -- come join up and look like those cool video game soldiers. Who would want to be in the Army if you couldn't look cool? Anyone remember when the Navy redesigned uniforms back in the 1970s so that no one had to wear one of those funny white Gilligan hats. Boy, that sure was cool......
posted by briank at 11:55 AM on March 8, 2001

me (above): to choose fom
to choose from. The "R" key on this keyboard has been slowly dying for the last two days.
posted by iceberg273 at 11:58 AM on March 8, 2001

Hmm.. after reading up on some stuff I kinda feel like an asshole though. It says that some died and the loved ones hold it as more than just a silly hat or it's meaning is seen as an accomplishment. It seems like a valid point.
posted by tiaka at 12:07 PM on March 8, 2001

That black beret is a symbol in the armed forces and those men had to earn the right to wear it. I find it in bad taste that Shinseki would even suggest the idea of making it universal.
posted by Watcher at 12:18 PM on March 8, 2001

The importance of the beret derives its strength from the belief by the soldiers that it's important. But that doesn't make it any less real.

I like daveadams' idea. Reminds me of the Star-Bellied Sneetches, my favorite Seuss tale.
posted by beth at 12:21 PM on March 8, 2001

I can't believe that they're doing this. It's a really bad idea, and the rank and file see through it like the empty gesture that it is. The worst of it is that the people for whom the beret is not an empty gesture are the elite forces who have earned it, or the families of those who earned it the hardest way possible.

If you read Black Hawk Down, about the operation in Mogadishu carried out by Army Rangers and Special Forces, I guarantee you'll see this for the deep insult it is. Every one of these men undergoes a training regimen far more difficult than your average army grunt, and many are culled as they wash out. And Special Forces/SEALS are to Rangers as Rangers are to Army grunts. They're some of the military's most committed and loyal members, and remain in the service far longer than the youngsters who do their stint to earn college credits or whatever while they figure out what they want to do with their lives. Their reward is to be sent first into the most dangerous situations our military is faced with. All they ask in return is a little respect.

The military is going through one of its periodic morale morasses. This always happens during a period of reorientation. There was such a period in the 1920s and 30s; there was a Korea-era postwar fumbling of mission; there was a 1970s retrenchment from Vietnam. The mission changes, and the men running the place have to adjust. The military can't solve these structural problems with a fig leaf -- or a beret.
posted by dhartung at 12:34 PM on March 8, 2001

Doug avers, "I think Berets say a lot of things. Elite fighting force, to me, is not one of them."

These days, berets say one thing to me: "Monica"
posted by bradlands at 12:48 PM on March 8, 2001

Here HERE dhartung!!!! The Rangers/Special Forces/Airborne (which my dad flew Chinooks for) etc. have proven themselves time and time again over the years and if the simple fact of the matter is that they want to wear a certain hat that sets them apart from the rest then more power to them. Its a HAT for pete's sake. It is the VERY LEAST we can give them for all they do/have done for us.

On a slightly more irreverent note...once a movie has been made about it should be set in stone (ie The Green Barets---Long live the Duke!) ;-)
posted by Princess Buttercup at 12:55 PM on March 8, 2001

I think that until you earn a cool hat, you should be forced to wear some lame band hats.
posted by eckeric at 1:27 PM on March 8, 2001

Okay, so what if the Army comes to its senses and decides not to rollout the black berets?

What do you do with 1.3 million (unused) surplus black berets?
posted by beth at 2:01 PM on March 8, 2001

Sell them for $15.95 each?
posted by iceberg273 at 2:06 PM on March 8, 2001

I had some free time, and you know, having in possession the really /33t mad flash skillz and all that, it was only natural to come up with this.
posted by tiaka at 2:07 PM on March 8, 2001

Btw, flash is still 99.9% evil.
posted by tiaka at 2:08 PM on March 8, 2001

Tiaka: where's raspberry?
posted by frykitty at 2:15 PM on March 8, 2001

As an ex-elite headgear-wearing officer (not the US Army though) let me tell you: it's not the hat that matters, it's the significance behind it. A green-beret-wearing, Special Forces PFC gets instant respect from any Army man, officers and grunts alike.

Special Forces/Rangers/SEALs/etc have to go through hell and they only thing they have to show for it is a stinking beret or a badge. To you guys it may be a piece of cloth, but to someone who had his entire personality torn down to turn him into a killing machine it's a sign of pride and honor. Giving them away as a recruiting tool is insulting at best.
posted by costas at 1:52 AM on March 9, 2001

I don't think anyone here considers the berets in question "just a piece of cloth," costas. Sure, berets seem like silly little hats most of the time, but they're a symbol of respect to the general populace, also.

I mean, as a civilian if I see a member of the military - whatever branch or country, really - in a beret, I know they've done something special to earn that beret, and it stops being a piece of cloth and is a symbol of their expertise.

But it's only a symbol in context. Berets for the most part are pretty silly looking hats, and without context that's all they are. Just 'cause we're poking fun at the style doesn't mean we're poking fun at the symbol.
posted by cCranium at 6:25 AM on March 9, 2001

I doubt anyone is still reading this thread, but the matter has now been settled. The Rangers are switching to tan berets and the Army still plans to hand out black ones. Yahoo Daily News story. And apparently there was a "brouhaha" about using Chinese manufacturers in order to get the berets done in time, so they're pushing the date later in order to use U.S. hat makers.
posted by girlhacker at 5:02 PM on March 16, 2001

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